“I know, I know. It’s hard to just sit in a society that says, ‘Go, move, say, do.’ But there’s nothing you can do to ease the pain in my heart. Nothing you can say that will provide the healing my soul needs. It’s hard for me too, to just sit, to say few words. I get uncomfortable at the silence, but the silence feels more comfortable to me than words right now. Your presence–your tears and your silence speaks more words than a book on grief. There will be a time to say something I know. I will probably ask you questions you can’t answer. But even if I do more than likely an “I don’t know, but I’m here with you,” will suffice.” Will you sit with me in grief?
If I sat down with you and asked you why it’s hard to sit in another’s pain, here’s how I think our conversation might go.
No one taught me how.
I know me too. We like to soothe tears with words, say everything will be okay, insert a joke or something to make the other “happy”. But what if sitting in the sadness is good for the soul. What if the way to happiness is to let our hearts feel the pain?
I don’t like feeling uncomfortable.
I know, me too. But grief is uncomfortable. And it’s good for the soul to sit in discomfort. To not look for quick fixes and trite words. For the only person it seems to soothe is the one who’s trying to help the other grieve.
I like to do. I’m a woman of action.
I know me too. But sometimes silence, stillness is the best course of action. You could change a tire that is flat, you could fix a broken valve on the sink, but you can’t fix a broken heart so quickly.
I just don’t like seeing you so sad.
I know, me too. I don’t like being this sad. But the reality is I am so sad. And lifting my sadness for a moment won’t change that reality. I deeply miss and ache for my child. And sadness is a reflection of my deep love for them. A good reflection. I know, it doesn’t feel good, it’s hard for you to see. But its good for you to see. It’s good for you to sit there with me. Because then I know that I’m not alone in my sadness and that it’s okay to be sad. When I know that, I can step into healing more easily knowing I’m not alone and don’t have to pretend to be somewhere I’m not.
I’m not sure how long to just sit here. Can I say anything at all?
I know. It’s crazy. I don’t know how long to sit here either. Some words may come out, that’s ok. It’s just when you say words to try to fill the awkward silence that can often be less healing than if they are words that just come to you. We don’t have to set a time limit, but when your lead foot is quiet, listening, waiting for me to say something or nothing I can be more authentic, I don’t have to perform. I can grieve with you. It may take me time to say a word for my mind is all jumbled inside of me. But I want to let you in when I’m able, when words come out.
I don’t know how you would answer that question, these are all the ways that I would answer that question even as one who has grieved deeply. But here’s what I know, in the midst of deep grief the quiet presence of another has been more comforting, more healing than the mindless words of those who seem to just need to fill the silence. Those who have allowed it to be uncomfortable have helped me to embrace the discomfort of grief, and those who have given me space to speak when I have been able have become the recipients of the offering of my heart when I have been ready. To just sit with someone in their grief is difficult, counter-culture even. But it is good, necessary and healing.
Lindsey Dennis is the proud mother to 4 precious children, 2 who passed away shortly after birth and two in her arms today. She is married to the man of her dreams, Kevin and loves to spend her time offering the hope that is being written on her heart in the midst of her grief to others. She is the author of Buried Dreams: From Devastating Loss to Unimaginable Hope that tells the story of the loss of her first two daughters and the hope that she discovered in the midst of deep grief.